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F#(K Cancer: The Musical @ Shadowbox Live, January 17th-26th - by Ricki C.

(editor’s note: By the very nature of the show, and the title, this article will contain profanity, so it might not be for the kiddies…….)

First off, a coupla paragraphs of facts, then some of the usual senseless/nonsense Ricki C. commentary……..

Fact: The Shadowbox Live production of Fuck Cancer: The Musical returns beginning this Thursday, January 17th, and continues through Saturday, January 26th, ticket info and all that good stuff found here: Shadowbox Live, Fuck Cancer: The Musical.

Fact: Fuck Cancer: The Musical grew out of an idea by Shadowbox founder & creative mainstay Stev Guyer after he was diagnosed with cancer. There’s a really informative article from Columbus Underground about show author Jimmy Mak and the creation of the musical from when the show debuted last summer linked here, in case you wanna read all about it: Columbus Underground / F#(K Cancer: The Musical. (I LOVE links. As a lazy rock & roll roadie/blogger, they make my job SO much easier.)

Fact: You should go see this show. I will explain why in my commentary.

Commentary: I first heard about this production in a phone call from my good friend & brother in the rock & roll Ed Hamell (aka Hamell On Trial). Sometime in the spring of 2018 Ed phoned to say he was gonna be writing the songs for a musical about people dying of cancer for Shadowbox Live. “A musical about people dying of cancer?” I said to Ed, “That sounds cheery. I think you’re just the man for the job.” Hamell and Shadowbox go way back. In the late 1990’s – YEARS before I became Ed’s road manager in the early days of the 21st century – Shadowbox would book Hamell On Trial into their 2Co’s Cabaret venue on High Street in the Short North.

I have to say, though, at no time in the ten years from 2000-2010 that Ed and I crisscrossed these United States do I remember either of us saying, “You know what would be a KILLER (pun intended) career move? Writing the songs for a musical about people dying of cancer.” But here we are in 2019 and I have to admit, Fuck Cancer: The Musical is a pretty genius idea by both Mak & Hamell, and once the Shadowbox band & actors breathe life into the story and the songs, the whole deal becomes a genuine tour de force.

Full disclosure: At the time Ed and Jimmy were collaborating on the writing of the show, both my beloved sister Dianne and my dear friend Mike Parks – the lead guitarist of Colin Gawel’s band The League Bowlers – had just died of cancer. (My brother had also just then passed away from complications of heart disease.) Given those realities, I can’t really say I was prepared to actually ATTEND the production when it debuted in June, 2018.

In actual fact it took me until late summer 2018, to buck up and go to the show on August 26th, the very last day of the first run of the musical. Ed had come into town to see the show for the first time, to witness the culmination of the songs he had written but had never actually seen staged since the early rehearsals back in April or May.

By the intermission of the show, I truly, truly regretted waiting until the very last day to see Fuck Cancer: The Musical, because it meant I couldn’t go see it again the next day; it really was THAT great, and THAT powerful. Jimmy Mak’s book and Ed’s songs melded into a truly heartfelt, moving story. I fully admit, I was initially concerned that the show might be cloying, or overly sentimental, or – at the other end of the spectrum – too cutting, and therefor painful to watch.

In the end, Fuck Cancer: The Musical was none of those things: it was simply wonderful, and moving, and simultaneously heartfelt AND heartbreaking, in the best possible way.

And the best thing? This Thursday, I get to go see it again. If you haven’t seen the show, I gotta say: GO! If you’ve seen it before I’m betting – like me – you’ll wanna go again. Do it. – Ricki C. / January 14th, 2019.

Ten Albums That Changed My Life - by Pete Vogel

With gratitude to both JCE (whoever that is) and CG, I am happy to share with Pencilstorm readers the top ten albums that changed my life. I could literally write a book on the subject, but I’ll keep it as brief as I can.

The reasons why I’d call these albums “life-changing” is because they helped form my soul during times of inner turmoil and confusion. Being raised Catholic—and attending Catholic schools for twelve years—was often oppressive. Catechism taught us one thing, family dynamics something else, and music became a third teacher.

Mom had a small collection of albums she bought when we were young: they included works by Carole King, Tom Jones, Jim Croce and James Taylor. But two albums she also had—and got the most attention—were The Nutcracker and Jesus Christ Superstar. They enjoyed a ton of spins from all four of us children and to this day I get emotional listening to them. At the time they represented a liberating freedom from the stifling conformity of Sunday mass and a disciplinarian father who reared his children after his role models: Woody Hayes and Bobby Knight. Dad wanted athletes and cheerleaders—I wanted a father who wasn’t a drill sergeant.

Per mother’s request, I took piano lessons in the second grade and hated it: joyless instructor, boring classical pieces and stuffy recitals. But mom purchased Elton John’s Greatest Hits and I didn’t know playing piano could be so much fun. I obviously didn’t have the talent to play like him, but to listen to his joyful glissandos gave me fodder for trying.

My older brother Jim was the braintrust to our siblings’ exposure to new music. He brought home Chicago VI around 4th or 5th grade and we played it nonstop on our record player. Between the vocals, horn section, great guitar riffs and impeccable drumming, I was hooked. I still remember listening to “Feeling Stronger Every Day” for the very first time. Life changing.

Every few months Jim would bring home a new album and expose his sibs to its magic. The next to have such an impact was the debut Boston album. I remember hearing “More Than A Feeling” on the radio and was immediately struck by the acoustic guitar, vocals, harmony guitars & undulating drums. I was hooked from the first stanza. The album was every bit of that and more. ”Foreplay/Long Time” was the first song I ever heard that I considered an anthem.

Around the same time Jim brought home Led Zeppelin IV and that had a similar impact. Who doesn’t remember the first time they heard “Stairway to Heaven”? Every song on that album was a masterpiece.

The next album Jim brought home was Yessongs. It was a live album and too “out there” for my tastes and I didn’t understand the songs at all. Too garish for my tastes. But Q-FM-96 became our favorite radio station at the time and “Roundabout” was on steady rotation. I fell in love with this song and eventually talked Jim into buying Fragile. To this day there is nothing that moves me quite like Yes music. It remains its own genre.

As much as I loved the edgy guitar riffs and powerful drums of Zeppelin and Boston, I always tried to nurture a softer side with my musical tastes. One band that thoroughly watered my soil was Electric Light Orchestra. I remember buying A New World Record at the Ohio State fair and coming home to share the album with my family. It was the first time that I introduced an album to the family, so you can say it was my first official step into autonomy.

But everything changed in 1978. Jim came home from school one day and brought me into the living room. “Listen to this,” he said. He put on Side II of The Kids Are Alright and my music crush became an obsession. “Baba O’Riley” was the song he chose and I was dumbstruck: bass, drums, angry guitar chords and the masculine rage of Roger Daltrey’s vocals. From that day on, I followed The Who like a jealous stalker. I was not right in the head.

It’s hard to say which of the following albums impacted me the most after The Who: there are so many albums that resonated with me that it’s hard to select just one. I’d have to say my tenth pick is actually a toss-up between a host of albums, chief among them: Never Mind the Bollocks (The Sex Pistols); Hemispheres (Rush); Live at Leeds (The Who); Quadrophenia (The Who); Close to the Edge (Yes); Grand Illusion (Styx); Misplaced Childhood (Marillion); Van Halen I (Van Halen); The Wall (Pink Floyd) and Out of the Blue (ELO). These albums transformed my life in ways that I never recovered from, and this is why I still stubbornly pursue a music career well into my fifth decade.

Thanks for reading. Looking forward to others’ posts!

My 2018 Concert Rundown - by Kevin Montavon

Anyone who knows me, even on a casual basis, can tell you what my favorite pastime is. Here's a hint...it starts with "live" and ends with "music." I like, no, I love to go to concerts. Whether the venue is a tiny bar or a massive sports stadium, no matter if the band is an up-and-comer or a certified legend, the motto I live by is "Always go to the show." Or, more practically stated, as I have told many friends, "I don't see every show, but I see every one that I can.”


As an avid concertgoer, I keep track of shows, but only to a degree. I save ticket stubs, but not every concert requires tickets, or in many cases the venue just checks your name off a list. I have heard of people who meticulously keep track of all the shows they see, movies they watch, albums they listen to, etc. But who has time for that? In addition I suspect that the people who do this don't see as many shows as I do.

Enter modern technology. This past year, 2018, was the year I fully embraced the calendar in my phone. I kept track of every show I wanted to see, and if I ended up not going to a particular show, I removed it from the calendar. If I went to a multiple band show and missed any of the acts, I only listed the bands I saw. In the end I was left with an accurate look at a year in the life of a concert addict. Starting with Clutch on New Year's morning (they played Express Live for New Year's Eve 2017, taking the stage at 11:30 p.m. and playing until 1:00 a.m. on January 1st of this year); and ending with Colin Gawel and The Bowlers at the traditional December 23rd Woodlands Tavern gig, this year conveniently held at the easily manageable matinee hour of 4:00 p.m.; it was a typically full year. 


It's always hard for me to choose highlights from a year's worth of shows. For me live music played well is a sublime experience in and of itself. But this year I can easily say that two nights of Pearl Jam in their hometown of Seattle was heads above all other shows, particularly Night Two, which has already attained mythological status among Pearl Jam fanatics. The Missoula, Montana Pearl Jam show a few nights later takes an easy 3rd place spot. Double doses of Clutch (previously mentioned New Year's show and a co-headliner stint at the InkCarceration Festival in Mansfield, Ohio), and Lucero (opening for Frank Turner at Express Live in June...where they performed their entire as-yet-unreleased album as their set; and a headlining show at Skully's later in the year, where they played a request of mine...a song they haven't played in a decade) were fitting, as the albums both bands released in 2018 were my absolute favorite offerings of the year.


The Rumba Cafe remains my favorite venue to see a band, anywhere. And this year at Rumba I was treated to face-melting sets from Dan Baird & Homemade Sin, Drivin' N' Cryin', American Aquarium, Brandy Zdan, and Aaron Lee Tasjan, who was the biggest surprise of the year. I had not seen him previously, and I knew he would be good, but I wasn't prepared for just how mind-blowing of a performer he is. 

There's really far too many highlights to mention. You will also not be shocked to hear that I have zero plans to slow down any time soon. I already have Cher, Nick Mason's Saucerful Of Secrets, Kiss, and Iron Maiden on my calendar for 2019. Can't wait to see what other artists fill in all those other, as yet still blank, boxes. If you see me at a show in the new year, say hello, and let's rock!

Below is a list of all the bands I saw in 2018 (In many cases two or more bands were seen on one bill. This is a list of bands seen in total, and number of times I saw them):


Colin Gawel  (5x)

Pearl Jam  (3x) (click here to jump into Kevin’s excellent Pearl Jam Road Trip blog)

Trash Junkies (3x)

Clutch (2x)

James McMurtry (2x)

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit  (2x)

Lucero  (2x)

Race Of Devils  (2x)

A Perfect Circle

Aaron Lee Tasjan

Adam Kamm & The One Drops

Alice In Chains

American Aquarium

ASG

Berlin

Black Label Society

Black Spirit Crown

Blackberry Smoke

Bourbon Train

Brandy Zdan

Brett Michaels

Carach Angren

Corey Branan

Corrosion Of Conformity

Dan Baird & Homemade Sin

Dee Snider

Devildriver

Dokken

Don Felder

Drive-By Truckers

Drivin' N' Cryin'

Foghat

Frank Turner

Fu Manchu

Glenn Hughes

Goatwhore

Hall & Oates

Henry Rollins

Hiss Golden Messenger

Jake The Snake Roberts

John Moreland

Kingpin

Lita Ford

Lo-Pan

Magic Dick

Michael Schenker Fest

Moodshifter

Mr. Speed

Orphaned Land

REO Speedwagon

Satyricon

Sevendust

Sheryl Crow

Sleep

Snowblynd

Steve Earle

Styx

SubRosa

Suicidal Tendencies

Terry Davidson & The Gears

The Hold Steady

The Magpie Salute

The Shelter People

The Sword

Tool

Train

Tyr

Warrant

Willie Phoenix

Yes, featuring Anderson, Rabin & Wakeman


Rob Braithwaite's 2018 Music Compilation

Here are the songs I’ve chosen to represent how I spent my 2018 music fund.

“Music Box Theme”
Howard Blake
The Changeling (soundtrack)

The Changeling is my favorite horror movie. It got the blu-ray treatment this year, and with it came the soundtrack. It’s pretty great, too.


“Hate and Control”
Bully
Losing

I’m a big fan of the extended opening.


“Death Camp Fantasy”
Hot Snakes
Jericho Sirens

Person: What’s your favorite band?
Me: uh, which band is John Reis in now?
Person: Hot Snakes.
Me: Hot Snakes.


“You Can Have Alonetime When You’re Dead”
Remember Sports
Slow Buzz

If it pops and it rocks, it works for me.

Remember Sports plays an all-ages show at Ace of Cups January 3rd.


“Oyahytt (featuring Lakeith Stanfield)”
The Coup
Sorry to Bother You: The Soundtrack

A great lead track for a soundtrack of one of the most nuts movies I’ve seen in a while.


“Apostrophe’”
Frank Zappa
Apostrophe (‘)

Having seen Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words two years ago and read The Real Frank Zappa Book this year, I was ready for a serious sampling of his massive catalog. I asked the friend who saw the movie with me and gave the book for a starter compilation and an album suggestion. Knowing me, he suggested listening to Apostrophe (‘) and/or Over-Nite Sensation while he thought about how to tackle my cuts request. The title track of Apostrophe (‘) was an instant favorite. I imagine it as the soundtrack for a very extended opening credit sequence for Barney Miller.

Spang’s Frank Zappa Starter Kit (runtime: 32 minutes):
01 “My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama” - The Mothers of Invention - Weasels Ripped My Flesh
02 “Peaches en Regalia” - Frank Zappa - Hot Rats
03 “Village of the Sun” - Frank Zappa & The Mothers - Roxy & Elsewhere
04 “G-Spot” Tornado” - Frank Zappa - The Yellow Shark
05 “Watermelon in Easter Hay” - Frank Zappa - Joe’s Garage: Acts I, II & III
06 “Any Way the Wind Blows” - The Mothers of Invention - Freak Out!
07 “Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance” - The Mothers of Invention - We’re Only in It for the Money
08 “Electric Aunt Jemima” - The Mothers of Invention- Uncle Meat


“Boys in a Better Land”
Fontaines D.C.
single

IDLES will tour the U.S. again in 2019 and Fontaines D.C. will open. Do not miss this show. Fontaines D.C. are fine. They will make a good addition to the best concert of the year.


“You Only Live Twice”
Beulahbelle
Tully (soundtrack)

A pretty cover of one of the best James Bond songs. It’s a prefect selection for Tully.


“Birthday Cake”
Slothrust
The Pact

TV introduced me to Slothrust. Their song “7:30 A.M.” is used for the opening credits of You’re the Worst (final season start January 9th). I love Slothrust so much that I saw them at The Basement, Columbus’ worst music venue. There were several songs from the album I could have put on this compilation, but I liked how this one sounds after “You Only Live Twice.”


“Talk of the Town”
Elle King
Shake the Spirit

An album with so many styles shouldn’t work. This is the second time Elle King proved that it can.


“I’m Scum”
IDLES
Joy as an Act of Resistance

The albums are great. The live show is amazing. Seriously. They will be on tour in 2019. GO. SEE. THEM.


“Beating My Head Against a Wall”
Jeff Rosenstock
POST-

It pops. It rocks.

“Bang Someone Out”
Sleaford Mods
EP

So I was hanging in Oslo and my Norwegian cousin says to me, “Vil du se Sleaford Mods i Göteborg?” Then I said, “What?” Soon we were on our way to see Sleaford Mods in Göteborg, Sweden.

Two guys, a laptop and a microphone. It’s not quite hip hop. It’s not exactly punk. It was fascinating to watch and one of the best concerts I’ve seen.

If you can, get your eyes on the band’s documentary, Bunch of Kunst. It captured the band at a perfect moment and the last fifteen minutes or so is Rock Doc Hall of Fame material.

“Tester”
Hinds
I Don’t Run

The English-as-a-second-language vocals give the super catchy songs a added flavor.


“Cut Stranger”
J Mascis
Elastic Days

Unlike a box of chocolates, I always know what I’m going to get with a J Mascis/Dinosaur Jr album. Few artists can get away with such a thing for so long (see also: AC/DC).


“Our Work Is Done”
Superchunk
single

Not only was it a surprise Superchunk came to town this year but they go and drop a single before the year is through. [happy monkey emoji]

Happy Listening in 2019,
- rob.

Rob watches movies and listens to music and writes stuff. He once watched 365 movies in one year and wrote about each one. Click here to check it out.

Five Albums That Changed My Life - by Wal Ozello

We’ve had an ongoing feature here on Pencilstorm with the contributors sharing albums that changed their lives. When I sat down to work on this assignment, it became quickly apparent to me that I had a short list. I listen to a lot of music… different genres, artists, decades… you name it, I’ve listened to it. But here we’re talking about albums… WHOLE albums… that changed the direction of my life in a totally different course. That list is only five for me.

My list begins with my first rock album - Bat Out of Hell by Meatloaf. I was around 10 years old. Until this album I was stuck listening to my mom’s easy listening stuff and my dad’s classical stuff. My older brothers had not done their job, yet, to gift me the education of rock that I needed and unknowingly yearned for. One of my sisters was listening to that pop-ish REO Speedwagon, Billy Joel or (gag) Air Supply. But somehow I got my hands on my other sister’s Bat Out of Hell album. From the first power chord and the subsequent piano riff, my rock n roll innards screamed out “YES! MORE! MORE! MORE!” What I discovered from this album is that I loved my rock n roll with a heavy dose of DRAMA. It needed to be more than just a few power chords, catchy tune and clever lyrics. It needed to explode off the vinyl and hit me in a way that knocked the hell out of me. I listened to the album so much that I can still hear the skips I put in the vinyl… and I put in many. (I was 10 and did not know how to properly take care of an album. Please forgive me, Scott Carr.) What I never realized at the time is that this desire for drama would permeate into everything I do. At first it was my songwriting, then it was my other artwork - movies and books. Soon it was my personality and lifestyle. Bat Out of Hell shaped me and who I was beyond the music fan. It shaped me as a human being.

As I got older my brothers finally started my musical education, but instead of moving forward in time we kind of worked backwards. There was heavy doses of Yes, The Grateful Dead, Genesis and The Police from my brother Jim and more mainstream rock from my brother Tom, with The Eagles and Steve Miller Band. But the next album to change my life was Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen & The E. Street Band. Talk about drama. The stories in these songs were full of them. Thunder Road. Backstreets. Born To Run. Jungleland. Every track on this album is damn near perfect and I could listen to the whole album forever. But that sax solo in Jungleland. Wow. A work of art. I remember listening to that sax solo and opening up the album cover staring at The Big Man, Clarence Clemons, with that brassy tenor sax hanging from neck. I wanted to be Clarence Clemons soooo bad. Imagine that for a moment. Here I was, a skin & bones geeky white boy about 13 years old, 100 pounds wet, 4 foot 9 with plastic rimmed pop-bottle glasses, desperately wanting to be an ebony-skinned, 6 foot 5 black man. That’s what his sax solo did to me. A year later my dad bought me a Tenor Saxophone and I became a musician. One of the best things that ever happened to me.

My journey in the world of drama continued, this time with a healthy dose of art to go with it. It was my angst-filled emotional teenage years and the first album that defined my high school years was Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Yeah, I know that it was released years before I discovered it, but when I found it I was… blown.. a… way. Until I listened to this masterpiece, I never knew that rock & roll could be an artwork. This album is magical and tells the story of one person’s life through not just one disc… but two! This isn’t just a concept album, this is work of art. The Mona Lisa. The Sistine Chapel. The Vitruvian Man. Beethoven’s Fifth. The Wall. This album changed my approach to EVERYTHING. I realized art can be infused everywhere: that everything can have a deeper meaning, layers beyond layers and that humanity can be expressed in the simplest of ways… even through a rock and roll song. After this album, I tried to have even the smallest things in my life have a deeper meaning. It became a blessing and a curse.

The second album of my high school years to change my life was a contemporary album instead of one released years before. It was 1987 and I was going into my Junior year. We didn’t have a big life event to define our generation. The Sixties had Vietnam. The Seventies had Watergate and cocaine. The Eighties had nothing. We were filled with rage but had nothing to rage against. So when Guns N Roses’ Appetite For Destruction hit the airwaves it came on like a freight train you jumped on and rode with wanton abandon. This was my generation’s album. It oozed that Eighties Bravado that defined my generation - led by front man Axl Rose. Axl opened a door for me that I’m ever so grateful for. Before Axl, all the hairband singers were average and anyone with a decent singing voice could pull off covering their music. But Axl had talent, range and passion. It took a singer that could hit the high notes with a set of angry balls. Thankfully, that was me. I finally had an honored place among my own brethren because I could pull off Axl in a way no others could. I put down my saxophone and picked up a microphone. From then on I was a lead singer, fronting bands and covering stuff like Guns N Roses, Rush and Journey with the bravado of Axl Rose. Changed my life forever. Thirty years later, I still consider myself a lead singer.

Which leads me to my final album. If you’ve heard of it, I’m very grateful because it’s mine. In May of 1991, as part of Armada we released the CD Don’t Give Up The Ship. Understand this was back when independent CD releases were rare. The only other people I knew of during that time who did it was Watershed and the guys from Shock Tu. It was a big accomplishment of my life. To be in a studio, record your music, craft the tracks and then sell physical copies of your music is an experience that is just mind- blowing. Every now and then a visitor will look through my CD collection and ask, “Who’s Armada?” (I file my CDs alphabetically and it’s usually the first one they see.) I always open it up and show them the picture of me with my long hair. Sometimes they make me play something off of it. This album changed me forever. It bonded me to three other guys that are like blood brothers but it also gave me a huge sense of accomplishment. I created something special and it proved to me that I could continue to do amazing things throughout my life. Unfortunately, Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana came out the same year and if there was a sixth album that changed my life forever that would be it, but in a bad way. It ushered in the Grunge music era and by that time no one wanted the high tenor voice that was adored during the Appetite For Destruction era just four years earlier. My career as a lead singer came to a screeching halt as Eddie Vedder mumbled out “Son, she said, have I got a little story for you…” Thank God I went to film school and had a back-up career planned as a Hollywood filmmaker. (Which didn’t happen, either.)

I find it fascinating how music can change our lives forever. It’s more than a soundtrack of our lives. Music is an inspiration, a friend to lean on, a guide and support system, all in one. If anyone ever tells you they don’t need an artist, they’re lying to you. People need musicians and artists like they need air. They help us define and celebrate our humanity in ways no other professions can. The next time you’re walking down the street and a musician is playing on the corner, toss some money into their gig case and thank them. And the next time some one tells you they don’t need an artist, call bullshit.

Thanks for reading about my five albums.

Wal Ozello is a science fiction techno-thriller novelist and the author of Assignment 1989 ,  Revolution 1990, and Sacrifice 2086. He's the lead singer of the former Columbus rock band Armada. His film work includes directing Dad Can’t Help You Now by Colin Gawel.

The View From the Side of the Stage: The Beatles Marathon - by Ricki C.

Sgt. Peppercorn's 2018 Beatles Marathon will be held at the Bluestone this Saturday, Dec. 15th. Click here for ticket info.

I remember it like it was yesterday: in 2011, at the conclusion of the Hitless Wonder/Brick & Mortar tour (the one and – as it turned out – only tour that Whiles leader Joe Peppercorn served as a member of Watershed) Joe turned to me as we were grabbing our tour bags out of the van and said, “Hey, I’m doin’ a show at Kobo in December playing all the Beatles’ songs in a row, you wanna roadie for it? I’ll pay you a hundred dollars.” “A hundred dollars?!?” I said incredulously, “Are you crazy? That’s like three nights pay with Watershed.”

“Ummmm, I think it’s gonna be a lot of work,” Joe said, in his usual overly-serious way, “it’s a LOT of songs.” “How much work can it be?” I replied flippantly, “I’ll roadie the show, we’ll work out the money later.” (Truthfully – and I fully acknowledge HOW naive I was being – at that point I firmly believed you could play the entire Beatles catalog in maybe 3 or 4 hours, tops.)

As it turned out, that first Beatles Marathon show at Kobo started at 2:30 in the afternoon (because the band had never played the songs all the way through at the same time, and nobody knew how long it would take) and ended AT 4 O’CLOCK THE NEXT MORNING! I EARNED that hundred bucks, ladies & gentlemen.

Actually, I made a lot more money than I expected that night. Joe bumped my pay to $125 after counting up all the door-money that night. There was a line around the block at Kobo for most of the day & night that December 29th, 2011, the date of the second Marathon. (The first one was 2010 at Andyman’s Treehouse, with Joe playing solo and being helped out by various friends, our own Colin Gawel among them.) Plus, I made an extra hundred bucks because 4 or 5 fifty-something guys gave me 10-20 bucks apiece in the hours between midnight and 4 am, because, “I was workin’ so hard,” and, “they knew I wasn’t gettin’ paid enough.” I told them I was being adequately compensated, so they didn’t have to feel sorry for me, but they insisted I keep the cash, so I did.

The five-piece band that first year at Kobo – Joe on guitar & keyboards, Brandon Barnett from Ghost Shirt on lead guitar, Whiles stalwart Chris Bolognese on bass and Dan Murphy & Jessie Cooper alternating every two albums on drums – was a scrappy bunch for sure, but at times the presentation was almost like The Modern Lovers or late-70’s Talking Heads playing The Beatles catalog. There were some harmonies from Brandon & Chris, but there was hardly the pinpoint/right on the money/dazzling precision of the latter-day Marathon shows. (By the way, the next year at Kobo, Brandon Barnett was forced to drop out of the show by family commitments and Matt Peppercorn - Joe’s younger brother and lead guitarist of The Whiles - had THREE WEEKS to learn the entire Beatles catalog and play the show. It was a musical achievement I would not have thought possible and still marvel at to this day. That guy is a mathematical guitar genius.)

Okay, I could go on like this all night, but I’m already WAY over my allotted 500 words and the Marathon hasn’t even been moved to The Bluestone yet. There’s a GREAT article by professional writer Joel Oliphint about the run-up to the 2016 show linked here – The Beatles Marathon / Columbus Alive, 2016 – that does more justice to the Marathon than I ever could. Check that out and let me just say this: I’ve stage-managed The Beatles Marathon for eight years now and every year there’s a new musical memory I’ll never forget - Matt’s MASTERFUL recreation of the Eric Clapton guitar solo from “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” in 2015; Joe SEARING through “Tomorrow Never Knows” like the bastard son of Iggy Pop & James Brown in any given year; Carrie Ayers BLASTING Paul McCartney vocals to shreds on her guest-spot star-turns, to name just three off the top of my head.

To sum up, three things: 1) At 13 hours, The Beatles Marathon is at least TWELVE hours longer than any Beatles live show was once they graduated from The Cavern in Liverpool and The Star Club in Hamburg, Germany back in 1963; 2) The Beatles never toured ANY of their albums from Rubber Soul onward, so the large majority of these songs were NEVER played live by them; 3) In my view – from the side of the stage – the boys & girls and the ladies & gentlemen in the audience dearly LOVE to sing along to The Beatles’ songs, all 200 & some of them. – Ricki C. / December 11th, 2018.

(editor’s note: Oddly, Ricki C. has never made any secret of the fact that he never even particularly LIKED The Beatles, only bought a couple of their singles back in the 1960’s, and NEVER bought any of their albums. We here at Pencilstorm are occasionally bewildered why he ever even TOOK this roadie gig, and how he’s managed to hold onto it for all these years.)

For more from Ricki C. on this topic, click this link from his 2012 blog, Growing Old With Rock & Roll:

Mrs. Children, The Whiles & the Beatles Marathon

(editor’s note: That’s blog author Ricki C. handing off the Gibson SG at the beginning of this 2011 video.)